Author Archives: Alberto Peralta

Research Project on Neo-Liberal Policies and their affect on Brazil

For my research project, I intend to look at the effect of neoliberal economic policies on Brazil’s economy and politics domestic and abroad. In the 20th century, there were countless interventions by foreign and domestic entities, that have exploited Brazilians and their land. My main goal is to see the long lasting effects of programs such as the Washington Consensus that have put Brazil on the global map as a economic powerhouse, and how they have simultaneously hurt the average Brazilian.

In this report I want to focus on the economic sector in Brazil. I want to see how Brazil is doing economically, at the macro-level and the micro-level domestic and abroad as a result of neo-liberal policies implemented in the 20th century. This report will look at how these changes to Brazil have affected the everyday life of common people in Brazil and the shift of the status quo for people living in poverty. The economic report would mostly look at the foreign direct investment in Brazil from outside nations and policies used by the Washington Consensus in the 1980s in Latin America, specifically looking at Brazil.

I also want to see how these policies have changed Brazil’s political atmosphere and the nature of Brazilian democracy. I want to see if these economic policies have altered the integrity of Brazilian democracy. I want to investigate and find out if the governmental institutional bodies of Brazil doing a good job of holding the Brazilian government accountable? Is there horizontal and vertical accountability, and are there restriction of outsider influence on free and fair elections?

I think it is remarkable important to understand neo-liberalism and its effect on Brazil. Understanding this history, can help us understand Brazil today and its movement forward because these policies are still prominent today. I also believe that understanding this contemporary and recent history is key to understanding Brazil’s history of exploitation. I see several parallels with the indirect exploitation of outsiders today with the outsiders who already directly exploited Brazil centuries ago.

Primary Sources –

Hewlett, Sylvia Ann. “The Dynamics of Economic Imperialism: The Role of Foreign Direct Investment in Brazil.” Latin American Perspectives 2, no. 1 (1975): 136-48.

Secondary Sources –

Ahumada, Consuelo, and Christina W. Andrews. “The Impact of Globalization on Latin American States: The Cases of Brazil and Colombia.” Administrative Theory & Praxis 20, no. 4 (1998): 452-67.

Amann, Edmund, and Werner Baer. “Neoliberalism and Its Consequences in Brazil.” Journal of Latin American Studies 34, no. 4 (2002): 945-59.

Roxborough, Ian. “Neo-Liberalism in Latin America: Limits and Alternatives.” Third World Quarterly 13, no. 3 (1992): 421-40.

SACHS, IGNACY. “Quo Vadis, Brazil?” In Brazil: A Century of Change, edited by Sachs Ignacy, Wilheim Jorge, and Pinheiro Paulo Sérgio, by Anderson Robert N. and Dávila Jerry, 332-44. University of North Carolina Press, 2009.


Brazilian History and Culture Blog Post: Brazilian Evangelicalism and its effect on the LGBT community in Brazil

Brazilian man with the words “stop killing us” written across his chest. Photo by Miguel Schincariol

Today, Brazil is seeing a steep increase in violence towards the LGBT community. With the rise of Brazilian Evangelical representation in Congress, anti-LGBT sentiments have transcended politics and have found their way to the streets. According to The Guardian, last year 445 Brazilians of the LGBT community were murdered, a 30% increase from 2016. This strong hatred towards the LGBT community can be linked to the ultra-conservative evangelical leaders in Brazil. Brazilian politicians often associate to the LGBT community with the devil. The Guardian article says that often times, these same politicians equate these people with animals. In September of 2017, a judge approved conversion therapy after a gay art exhibit had been removed by the government. Discrimination towards people with regards to their sexual orientation and gender is not illegal, and justice for people of the LGBT community is rarely ever restored.

Crosses that represent LGBT victims in Brazil. Photo by Elza Fiuza

Unfortunately, the rise of traditional conservatism and evangelicalism is not slowing down. In 2016, 54% identified as traditionally conservative up from 49% in 2010 according to an article by The Atlantic. Anthropologists link this rise in conservative sentiments to the increasing fear of violence in Brazil. According to the Atlantic, Brazilians are favoring capital punishment, life without parole, and lowering the age of juveniles to be tried as adults. People have turned to a stricter religion and the church for help. This shift towards the church has increased the number of evangelicals in Brazil from 6.6% in 1980 to 22.2% in 2010. In a violent war torn country, the people are confiding in Law and Order and punishment for those who do not obey traditional practices, leaving the LGBT community at the mercy of non-evangelical politicians.

Jair Messias Bolsonaro praying at a press conference. Photo by Apu Gomes.

Its important to talk about religion and those who use it as a means of “othering” people. Jair Messias Bolsonaro is one of the most conservative politicians in the larger Brazilian political arena. He has often made extremely homophobic remarks, saying he would rather have a “dead son than a gay son.” Despite backlash for his disgusting remarks, he has declared a run for the presidency in 2018. This related to class themes that talk about the “other” people. Since the Portuguese arrived to Brazil, the social construction of “othering” different people has only caused harm to those deemed as other. In Brazil, as homophobic sentiments are on the rise, a once LGBT welcoming Brazil has turned in the LGBT murder capital of the world. Religion is also associated with this theme of “othering.” Christianity and its influence on these politicians have played a key role in demonizing the LGBT community in Brazil again.

External Links to the articles used:

The Guardian –

The Atlantic –

“Crosses” photo –

“Stop Killing Us” photo –


Class Notes – Tuesday, January 23

Logistical information

TA’s office hours are on Wednesdays 7-8. If this does not work for you, you can email Marina and work other times out with her.

Professor Holt started off class by saying that if you have NOT picked up a book pecha kucha date, you need to do that immediately. She showed two examples in class today from previous classes. If you did not sign up for Class Notes or the News Blog Post, you have been assigned a date already. So, go ahead and sign yourself up for a date/book to present! All these sign up links can be found on the course website.

There is a Great Decisions Series event this year with several speakers. It is called Resurgent Nationalism & and Borderless Problems. Professor Holt has posted the details with regards to this event on our dashboard.

Class Material 

Key Terms:

Treaty of Tordesillas – Signed June 7, 1494, its an agreement between Spain and Portugal aimed at settling conflicts over lands newly discovered or explored by Christopher Columbus and other late 15th-century voyagers.(Brittanica)

Pentimento – A visible trace of earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of paint on a canvas. (Wikipedia)

Primary Sources – In the study of history as an academic discipline, a primary source is an artifact, a document, diary, manuscript, autobiography, a recording, or any other source of information that was created at the time under study. (Wikipedia)

Secondary Sources – A document or recording that relates or discusses information originally presented elsewhere. (Wikipedia)

Historiography – Entering into the wider scholarly conversation about a research question by analyzing the relevant secondary sources. (Professor Holt)

Iberian Peninsula –  The Iberian Peninsula is a mountainous region that’s most associated with the countries of Spain and Portugal. (Wikipedia)

Class Discussion:

Todays discussion focuses on Brazilian Civilizations Pre-1500 and the Portuguese Empire in 1500. Today’s discussion question is: How and why does the cannibalism come so central to the 16th century European depictions of Brazil?

Background history:

Geography is important in this story. Portugal is a maritime empire on the fringes of Europe. Part of old an mediterranean world. Iberians have a tradition of trying to control muslims and jews even with a long history of coexistence. There are African muslims in Portugal and Spain. The Iberian Peninsula is very special due to its geographical barriers to the rest of Europe. Pyrenees Mountains cut Iberia from europe.

Portugal in the 1400-1500 is putting a lot of effort to develop technology navigation. Developments include: ship building, navigation, cartography, calculating longitude and latitude,  etc. They are thinking of how to get to the Middle East, Africa, and India in shortest time Possible. Portugal and Spain set up trading ports in Africa but did not stay and or conquer. Portuguese are not trying to send farmers to take coastlines, they are trying to establish mercantilism and make money. Enrich people back in Portugal.

Cartography, 16th century. Map of Western Africa. From the Atlas by Lazaro Luis, 1563.

Portugal are controlling global traffic with outside world due to their sophisticated navigation. Portugal did a good job describing a coastal knowledge. Just how they map the coast well in the Lazaro Luis map, they do the same thing with coastal Brazil. They are focusing on colonialism to enrich Portugal rather than settling. Their colonization and exploitation of land is very profitable to the Portuguese. Later, they use their contacts and controls to be the biggest single largest importer of African slaves to produce sugar. Sugar mills were built in Bahia, 1549. They turn to African slavery because of the people they find in Brazil. Native Brazilians would either flee back into the heart of the Amazon or die off from European diseases.

Someone mentions that this statement contradicts the readings because the readings say indigenous people were also enslave, easier to keep, and cheaper to own. Although that is true, Marina said the Portuguese spared the indigenous people because the Pope believed they could be Christianized. The Pope said that Africans have no souls and that indigenous people have not been exposed to Christianity yet, so they must be converted to be saved.

We then broke into Early Brazilian Books Project Groups

We were to discuss our interpretation of the Patricia Seed article: 

We agreed that we need to think critically of the primary sources used because they were written by white European men who were very wealthy at the time. There is only one perspective taken into account.

We agreed Europeans justify their colonization when they see cannibalism as an unorthodox tradition.  This fact was used against the native Brazilian people to deem them as wild and godless. In fact, there are only some isolated tribes that practice cannibalism for warfare, ceremonies, revenge, yet there was a series of over-exaggeration. Most of the people of Brazil actually did not engage in Cannibalism.

We questioned people why people were so obsessed with cannibalism issue if it happened in Europe as well. Catholics also do it. Nudity is also over-expressed as primitive and wild.

Woo mentioned that Indigenous culture was portrayed as nomadic and primitive. Although they acknowledge some skill and sophistication, Europeans choose to generalize and deem these civilizations as primitive.

We came back together as a group and agreed we need to look at secondary sources such as Seed’s work to fully understand the interactions with Brazilians and Europeans. It is important to look at what is given in primary sources and critically analyze their validity, bias, and accuracy.

Further Discussion Questions (Optional):

Why do Europeans completely negate the sophistication of Native-American societies?

Do you believe any Europeans that landed on Brazil truly believed that converting the people would help everyone, or was it just an excuse to take over?

Wikipedia Critique of “Afro-Brazilians”

I felt that most of the major topics in the article were very relevant to the main topic. I do feel that the structure on some of the sub-headings were much too long. For example, the first sub-heading “Afro-Brazilians”, could have been narrowed down to more specific topics. The content in general is present, and several aspects of Afro-Brazilians’ history is noted. The article is neutral overall, but there are several sentences that may have come from a personal point of view, rather than factual sources. In the sub-heading “Revaluation of Black Identity”, several claims are made with little to no sources. I feel that this could be a result of someone who may have lived similar experiences, but cannot find sources to support their contribution to the article.

The genetic demographic of Brazil are heavily emphasized and presented with several forms of evidence. There is one large section of the article dedicated strictly to the genetic build up of all Brazilians and related themes. They mention the colonial arrival genetic demographics, colonial rule demographics, and genetic demographics of today. I am not surprised, but I am curious as to why there is so much deliberation of genetic demographics by region of the country and what labels these genetic differences place on people. On the other hand, I am very surprised they did not mention large categories that are paramount to the Afro-Brazilian community. The Soccer/Football section was largely non-existent although most of the success in Brazil’s football history has come at the mercy of Afro-Brazilian players. Contemporary music and dance are also small portions of this article, although those same themes are world renowned today. Capoeira is also not discussed thoroughly, and after watching the documentary in class, I feel that section could definitely be expanded.

There are several missing sources in some sections. The section “Conception of Black and Prejudice” is one of the main sections with unreliable and missing links. It talks about the black identity, but is seriously missing several links. There is several information that could be added about culture and Afro-Brazilian contributions to the world today. There is a lot of discussion on what people think is factual and what others think is opinion. People are also urging others to contribute with evidence only. Although, some people may be right, they should always properly cite their work with credible sources.

It is currently part of three wikipedia projects at the moment. This article is different because it looks at several aspects of colonial history only while we look at that period and its effect on Brazil today. We talk about the gap between the colonial era and today. We talk about more themes that deal with the sentiments and human actions while this article does not make an argument for or against Afro-Brazilian experiences.